Our Camp's Israel Garden: A Guide to Creating and Programming

Learn the skills of gardening and the history of Israeli innovation as we create an Israel garden in camp -- full of Israeli fruits, veggies, and herbs that we will harvest and eat together!

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How to garden
History of drip irrigation in Israel
What kinds of food grows in Israel


At the beginning of the summer, choose a plot of land to place your garden. The land should have direct sunlight for at least 6 hours each day, and it should be near a water source.

Once you've selected the land, campers can help create the garden. They will need to hoe the dirt, plant guard rails of wood around the garden (laying them down in troughs dug in the ground is an easy way to do this). The point of planting guard rails is to keep the garden dirt firm and in the garden, allowing the garden to be 'boxed in'.

You then need to dig troughs as lines for planting seeds. Determine which items will need to grow where, and how many seeds you want for each item you're planting.

Once planted and watered, there are many interesting ways to integrate Israel into the experience: 

  • Learning about Israeli innovation.
    • Start with drip irrigation, one of Israel's claims to fame. You can set up your own drip irrigation system (a long hose with holes in it) or have your campers brainstorm the problem that led to its creation.
    • Once you're on the topic of Israeli innovation, learn more about creations that Israel is (and isn't) well known for. Like the cherry tomato strain Israel invented that ripens slowly and stays on the vine, allowing for it to be sold on cluster like grapes, and making shipping easier. (Other examples can be found here: http://www.israel21c.org/technology/israels-top-45-greatest-inventions-o...).
    • Have campers look at areas that need innovation in their garden or around camp. How can they use the examples of Israeli innovation to fix their problems? For instance, if the garden is too small for many people to work in it at once, what could they do to maximize the efforts of the whole group? Or if the garden isn't ready to be tended and a group is coming, what could they do with the other campers to help them feel connected to the Israeli garden?
  • The garden is a great opportunity for campers to learn Hebrew vocabulary. Create Hebrew and English (and transliterated) signage for every kind of plant in the garden. You can even create a poster for a wall near the garden letting everyone see a 'map' of the garden and what is growing where (in Hebrew and English). Also, you can post an enlarged version of the Resource Cards related to Israeli agriculture (Kibbutz, Drip Irrigation) and while you're planting the garden, you can orient the campers to the important role of agriculture in Israel's history.
  • Talk about argiculture and the landscape of Israel. Part of Ben Gurion's dream was to see the desert bloom. Why did he care about using the desert? Why did Israel spend so much effort in making agriculture work even in the desert? (Hint: The Negev Desert is 60% of the land in Israel).
  • You can also bring in a lesson about the kibbutz here, discussing with campers the history of the kibbutz movements and its role in agriculture.
  • You can also learn about the remarkable work of desalination in Israel. Given that much of the water around the desert has high saline content (the Mediterranean Sea), Israel found ways to use the salted water for irrigation of certain crops.

The garden can become the foundation for a wide array of programming (some examples below):

  • a cabin activity to prune/plant/harvest
  • a full age group activity to create the garden
  • an activity to create signage
  • a cooking class using the harvested foods/herbs
  • an Israeli meal where campers describe each item using the Hebrew name

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Camp Avoda